Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Answers to Your Crochet Questions

I asked last week for questions from you guys—anything you were dying to know, I said I’d try to answer. And I got some great questions! From crochet to photography to babies to celebrity crushes, it was fun to read your questions and ponder my (less than) brilliant answers. I’m going to split them up by category, and I’ll start today with crochet questions and answers.

I have a question about the bobble blanket...do you think it’s too girly with the ruffle border for a boy? If so...what other type of border would you suggest for the blanket?

Here is the blanket in question (and my post about it):

Crochet Bobble Blanket by Maybe Matilda

Personally, I don’t think it’s too girly, but I also don’t feel weird about letting my son play in my makeup or walk around in my heels, so I may not be the best judge of what is and is not appropriate for young boys. I think as long as you stick with a neutral or deep color (it would be great in any shade of gray, or brown/beige, or a deep green, or navy blue), it is plenty boy-appropriate. I do think it looks girly in bright/springy colors, but I think darker colors or even neutral shades would be fine for a boy. I also think a scalloped or picot border would be nice on this blanket, and might keep it from looking too ruffly and girly.

I'm interested in learning more about crochet pattern making. Do you make your own patterns or do you use others and make them your own? Where do you get inspiration for all your different crocheting creations?

Oooh, good question! I can’t say I’ve ever given much thought to this topic before. I don’t know anything about anyone else’s pattern-writing process, but for me, the whole process usually stems from either a) not being able to find a pattern for something I’m picturing in my head, b) seeing items I like in a store or online and then trying to recreate them myself, or c) finding a crochet pattern/item that I like but want to alter to fit my tastes/needs better. I have just as many (or more) pattern-writing failures as successes, and for me, it largely boils down to basic trial and error—just playing around with stitches and sizes and such until I either find something that works or give up entirely. I  do use others’ patterns frequently, and more often than not end up making changes to fit my wants/needs, but I don’t sell those patterns or call them my own. I just keep notes on my changes so I can recreate them again later, but I don’t feel comfortable calling those my own patterns and trying to make money off them. For instance, this hat is a popular item in my shop:

Crochet Brimmed Beanie from Maybe Matilda

It started out as a free pattern anyone can get online called the Big Girl Bonnet, but over the dozens (maybe hundreds!) of times I’ve made it, I’ve made many, many changes to the fit, size, and details of the hat and stitches. I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling it my pattern since I didn’t start it from scratch, but making modifications to and experimenting with existing patterns is a huge step toward writing your own patterns! Don’t be afraid to mess around with an existing pattern to change size or details or make it fit your style better. What’s the worst that could happen?

My neighbors are having their first baby. I'd love to make them a blanket. But I want it nice and soft. Any suggestions?

What a nice neighbor you are! I mainly work with worsted weight yarn—hands down, my favorite right now is I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby. It’s the perfect balance between durability (holds up great in the wash), comfort (nice and soft), and workability (doesn’t split). One issue I have with very soft yarns is that they often are so slippery and smooth that they’ll split as you crochet (meaning your hook will often end up going straight through the yarn instead of hooking around it, if that makes sense). It’s not the end of the world, but it slows me down and is annoying. Caron Simply Soft is really smooth and cozy, but I find it a little difficult to work with as it splits easily. It’s often worth dealing with the splitting issue for the super-smooth outcome, but not my favorite yarn when all factors are considered. Red Heart Soft falls into the same category—very smooth, very soft, very comfy, but also prone to splitting so it can be a little obnoxious to work with. If you don’t mind the splitting and extreme ‘slipperiness,’ either of those brands make great soft and cozy items. But as my first choice, I’d recommend Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn!

You have inspired me to delve into the crochet world. What's the best way to start? Where should I get supplies? What essentials should I have? What project should I start with?

Color me flattered! Best way to start is probably to find out if anyone you know is a crocheter and wouldn’t mind sitting down with you for a lesson or two. But if you don’t know anyone who crochets, you can certainly learn online (that’s what I did!). I have some basic crochet tutorials in my Crochet tab, and there are SO many YouTube video tutorials out there as well.

Basic Crochet Tutorials at Maybe Matilda

One awesome thing about crochet is that you don’t need much to get started, and it’s a rather inexpensive hobby. I’d start practicing with some low-price yarn like Red Heart or Bernat Super Saver, and an H or I hook. Altogether, those’ll cost you, oh, maybe $5-7 for both yarn and a hook? (My favorites are the Boye hooks, available just about anywhere--JoAnn, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, etc.) And that’s all you’ll need to start! Set up a Ravelry account (totally free!) and sift through their patterns until something catches your eye—something like these washcloths, this baby blanket, or this simple scarf would be a great place to start.

I would love a tutorial on something that may sound silly, but I couldn't find any other tutorials on: sewing store bought fabric to crocheted fabric. There are really great pictures of crocheted handbags with linings, and baby blankets with a flannel side and a crocheted side. I really want to know the best way to do that.

I’ll admit, I haven’t done this very much! I’ll experiment and find a great way to do it and get back to you :-)

Do you do granny squares and if so do you have a favorite way to join them? I am completely addicted to making them but now have a pile of them and struggle with joining them!

I totally feel your pain. I love making granny squares and blankets with blocks (here are ONE, TWO, THREE  blankets I’ve done using squares), but I haaaaate joining them. It is by far my least favorite step in blanket-making. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t found a method I’m crazy about yet. My favorite, if I had to choose one that I hated the least but also really love the look of, is this sort of zig zag chain/single crochet method. You can kind of see the zig-zaggy look of this method in this picture:

Zig Zag Join for Crochet Blocks

I’m not sure that it has a name, and at the time, I thought I had made it up. Of course, I didn’t, and later found a tutorial for it HERE. So I’d recommend trying that way—much faster than anything else I’ve tried, and I like the resulting look a lot!

I was wondering how you learned to crochet - did a family member show you how or did you learn on your own?

A little of each, actually! A neighbor of mine sparked my interest years ago when I saw her crocheting a blanket for her new baby. She gave me a brief lesson once and taught me to chain and single crochet. A few months later, a different neighbor helped answer some questions and troubleshoot a few things I was doing wrong. After those two very basic beginner lessons, I learned everything else from YouTube crochet videos, online tutorials, and good old trial and error. The internet is a beautiful thing—I owe probably 90% of my crochet knowledge to blog tutorials, Ravelry, and YouTube videos!

(Answers to the remaining questions coming soon!)

6 comments :

  1. I'm impressed that you are self taught. It gives me hope. Great post lady!

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  2. Very interesting! I just started to crochet about a year ago and really enjoy it (even if I sometimes feel like a granny sitting there with my yarn). Still have trouble with some of the stuff, though, it's so much more comfortable crocheting the same pattern over and over again! ;-)

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  3. I've always wanted to make a granny square blanket but joining all those squares just looks so tedious to me! I'll have to reconsider and try your method!

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  4. Here's another question---are you still friends with a pair of girls who tend to go through long periods of time where they fall off the face of the earth???

    I hope so.
    liZ

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  5. Okay, baby Forrest is the cutest little guy. Holy cow. And I'm freaking out because that means my little baby Henry is going to be a little boy so soon. I can't handle it.

    I love this post! My question, can you just come and live with me? I'll feed you and provide for you and you can just crochet for me all day. Like my indentured hooker. Okay. That sounded really good.

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  6. I love the Hobby Lobby "I Love This Yarn"! The stores in Vegas have been un-stocked for months now and today I asked a manager when they would be getting more. They said that the brand was being discontinued and they did not know if they would even be carrying a replacement for it. CRAFTER MELTDOWN!!!!!

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Thanks for commenting!